Arts & Culture


Heeding the Call That Haunts

By Susan Miron

Tattoo for a Slave By Hortense Calisher

Harcourt, 336 pages, $24.

‘Your grandmother never kept slaves.”…………With these words spoken to a young, naive Hortense Calisher by her father, born the seventh child of eight in 1861 in Richmond, Va., this unusual book opens. A “tattoo” can be a bugle call, a drum rollRead More


Ornaments of the World

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

They stand only 15 inches tall but bear the weight of Jewish history. I’m referring to a pair of silver-and-gilded rimonim (Torah ornaments) of 19th-century German provenance whose recent arrival in New York was celebrated by Congregation Habonim, a Conservative synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. These delicately worked ritual objectsRead More


Hollywood Looming: Allen’s ‘A Second Hand Memory’

By Don Shewey

Once upon a time it was a sacred ritual: the annual pilgrimage to see the new Woody Allen movie. The full-page ad would appear in the Sunday New York Times with nothing more than the title and the list of stars. The following Friday, long lines of hard-core devotees would appear in front of the Coronet or the Baronet — the bygone flagshipsRead More


Jewish Dogs and the Web Sites They Love

The Jewish pet is coming up in the world. Last year we reported on “bark mitzvahs,” and synagogues around the country have began to hold annual “Blessings of the Animals” to coincide with a reading of the story of Noah’s Ark, at which pets can receive a certificate and a Hebrew name.But what would rituals be without theRead More


When the Hero Is Judith, and the Latkes Are Cheese

By Matthew Goodman

Whatever your personal Hanukkah memories might be, their background noise is most likely potato latkes sizzling in oil. In America, potato latkes have become virtually synonymous with Hanukkah, as a culinary remembrance of the miraculous cruse of oil that burned for eight days and nights in the Maccabees’ temple when it was only supposed to lastRead More


Now for the Hard Part: Teaching Morality

By Jennifer Lerer Eden

With a new baby girl and two toddler sons, my husband and I have very little use for alarm clocks these days. It is usually still dark outside when the boys creak open our bedroom door and tiptoe together to the foot of our bed, whispering, “I want milk please”; “Let’s build a LEGO castle, Daddy”; “Is it still night?” The clockRead More


It’s a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook

It’s a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook By Stephanie Spinner With Illustrations by Jill McElmurry Atheneum Books for Young Readers ——Owen Block is the OCL — official candle lighter — of his family, and Grandma Karen is the official storyteller. Each night, after the menorah is lit, she tucks him into bed and asks,Read More


Once Upon a Jewish Fairy Tale

By Joshua Halberstam

Recently I joined my colleague, Nick, a visiting professor from Rhodes, to shop for suitable books to read to his children here in the States. He was appalled by the available choices.“Incredible. You Americans still tell your children stories about princes and princesses? Didn’t you fight a revolution to get beyond that?” He decidedRead More


Reviving the Flaming Tea Ceremony

By Miriam Leberstein

For many Jews from Eastern Europe, holiday celebrations were bound up with sugar cubes and tea — and Hanukkah was no exception. In keeping with the custom of making it a “Festival of Lights,” many Russian Jews practiced what is known as the Flaming Tea Ceremony. Celebrants dip lumps of sugar in brandy onto teaspoons and stand in line; asRead More


Authors Unafraid of Kids’ Inner Lives

By Jennifer Siegel

King Matt the FirstBy Janusz Korczak, Translated by Richard LourieAlgonquin Books, 352 pages, $13.95.——Your children — even those who generally shun books in favor of shoot-’em-up videogames — will truly enjoy “King Matt the First.” Written by Polish physician Janusz Korczak and first published in 1923, the novel stars a pint-sizedRead More


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